Attendance: 24, 392
A hard working performance at Hillsborough saw Derby County take home all three points to virtually secure their Championship status for next season. A Rob Hulse goal in first half stoppage time proved to be enough for Nigel Clough`s side as they hung on without too much trouble to leave themselves eight points above Norwich City, who fill the last relegation place, with four games left to play for The Canaries. Derby now find themselves over the 50 points barrier that Clough has stated will see them safe since his appointment back in January.
Nigel Clough made two changes to the side beaten at Cardiff in midweek with Robbie Savage and Mile Sterjovski making way for Stephen Pearson and Kris Commons. Wednesday were without loanee Luke Varney, ineligible to face his parent club, but they had Derby connections in the form of Marcus Tudgay and Lee Grant in their starting line-up. The Rams started brightly and Grant was out sharply to prevent Pearson getting on the end of a through ball and Hulse`s control escaped him at the vital moment as he looked to take down a Commons cross.
Grant was called into action again as he gathered a curling free kick from Commons and a Bannan cross with Eustace well placed in the area if the ball had reached him. Hulse then found himself the recipient of a yellow card as he clattered into the Wednesday keeper, there didn`t seem any intent but it was a clumsy challenge by the striker. Teale was then denied by another Grant save when his volley form just inside the area was kept out and, although it wasn`t one way traffic, all the chances were coming at one end in the opening 20 minutes.
Tudgay played in Simek down the right and the full-backs delivery found Jeffers in the area but he couldn`t get his effort on target and the former Derby man had another effort blocked shortly afterwards by McEveley before firing the rebound over after The Rams failed to fully clear their lines. Wednesday were asserting themselves on the game and Potter saw a 25 yard free kick strike the bar with Bywater beaten but the visitor`s took the lead in stoppage time at the end of the first half. A foul on Pearson wide on the left allowed Teale to deliver an inviting free kick and Rob Hulse powered in a header from close range to give his side the lead going into halftime.
Lewin Nyatanga made way for Andy Todd as the second half got underway after suffering a bout of sickness at halftime and Tudgay nearly gave Wednesday an instant response but his header was cleared off the line by Hulse when he met an O`Connor corner. Albrechtsen then came close at the other end when his volley flew narrowly over and Wednesday made two changes to try and find the equaliser bringing on Akpo Sodje and Leon Clarke came on for O`Connor and Jeffers.
The home side were on top at the start of the second half and Tudgay found himself in room in the area only to fire well over and Bywater was yet to make a save in the second half despite the pressure. Mile Sterjovski came off the bench to replace Barry Bannan in the hour mark to try and tighten things up in midfield after another promising performance from the Villa youngster going forward. Bywater then grabbed a long range effort from McAllister that didn`t test the Derby keeper too much.
Esajas, introduced as a substitute, was having some joy down the flank but a number of dangerous crosses came to nothing as the Derby defence cleared their lines well and the winger then tested Bywater from just outside the area but it was another fairly straight forward save for the keeper. Commons came off with twelve to go with Robbie Savage adding some extra legs in midfield and another Esajas effort only found the roof of the net as his free kick didn`t quite have enough dip on it. Wednesday were increasingly frustrated as time wore down, although Derby`s defending was becoming less assured, and the final effort of note came sixty seconds into injury time when Potter curled a free kick narrowly wide but it wasn`t to be for the home side as Derby hung on for a vital three points that sees them eight points above the drop zone with four games to go.